Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: 2016 Honda Legend 3.5 Sports Hybrid SH-AWD

What defines luxury? Is it the amount of wood and leather you touch and feel inside the cabin? Is it the badge and the story it tells through its rich history? For the all-new Honda Legend, it’s none of that. Instead, it’s reinterpreting luxury using cutting-edge technology where science fiction seems to blend with science reality. Whether or not you share that world view is immaterial; it’s undeniable that the company that has brought forth VTEC, ASIMO, and the Honda Jet has every reason to be proud of this flagship sedan.

At first, it’s hard what to make of the design. It’s neat and elegant, but passing glances alone may make one dismiss it as an Accord. And then, the compliments from both passenger and passerby alike start pouring in. The deep luster of the Crystal Black Pearl paint is a good starting point. Then, the eyes are affixed onto the front-end with its trademark Jewel Eye LED headlights. This creates a substantial presence that continues to the character lines that start from the hood, sweep over the front wheel arches, and then along the body sides. Once the gaze is locked onto the 19-inch alloy wheels, the reduced wheel arch gap creates a poised and planted look. In short, the Legend isn’t going for a “look-at-me” or “in-your-face” sort of pretentiousness. This one’s destined for the quiet achievers.

Sadly, the interior isn’t as opulent as what the stately exterior suggests. Though the dashboard, door linings, armrests, and seats are all swathed in leather (top-notch Milano on the thrones), the look and feel of the Legend’s interior doesn’t suggest a car worth P 4,380,000. This time, it barely passes for a fancier Accord. Honda designers have gone through great lengths to sculpt a spacious cabin (and it is), but the resulting “aero-fused” design is lacking in the wow factor that similarly priced Germans (or even Lexus) have gotten down pat. It also doesn’t help that the graphics look dated for the ginormous dual screen interface (8-inch top and 7-inch below).

Shaking off that initial disappointment, the rest of the Legend’s cabin is stellar. The fancier controls do take some getting used to, but even without access to the owner’s manual, it’s easy to get acquainted with the various systems. Some customization options are buried deep in sub-menus, but they’re all accessible via the large control knob. The more frequently used controls, such as the infotainment, can be operated by the touchscreen interface which happens to have haptic feedback.

The front seats are the best way to spend traffic in thanks to their supportive and cushy nature. It adjusts twelve ways and together with the power tilt/telescopic steering wheel makes finding the perfect driving position a cinch. It’s even ventilated in case you find the summer heat unbearable. The rear seats though are far less exciting. Though they’re also supportive and the legroom is great, there’s not much toys to fiddle with—not even their own climate control. And because of the hybrid drivetrain’s large lithium-ion battery pack, it limits the available headroom to the point that only two adults can sit in the back comfortably; the middle one will have his head brush the ceiling. The same battery pack robs the Legend of trunk space. Despite the long and wide body, the boot is limited to just 328 liters. And since the rear seats don’t fold, going for a round of golf using the Legend is perhaps, wishful thinking.

Others will point out the Legend’s 14-speaker Krell sound system as its pièce de résistance, but that’s far from the truth. In reality, the sound system is good, but nowhere close to as advertised. This leaves the drivetrain as its primary differentiator over the competition and it’s easy to see why anyone will get excited over the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system: it could well be the same one in the NSX, only in reverse. While that’s not exactly the case, it doesn’t make it less interesting. Apart from the familiar 3.5-liter V6 with an integrated electric motor upfront, the twin motor unit layout means having two 36-horsepower electric motors driving the rear wheels. Controlled via electronics (no driveshaft), this system can supply or pull torque resulting in yaw control (or torque vectoring). Combined, the drivetrain maxes out at 380 horsepower and 462 Nm of torque, enough for a 0-100 km/h time in just 5.4 seconds—figures comparable to that of a V8. Apart from performance though, this high-tech drivetrain hasn’t really contributed to a remarkable fuel economy figure: 6.18 km/L (average speed 14 km/h).

It’s hard to top the Legend in terms of quietness. With measures including sound-insulating acoustic glass and a flat underbody, it cocoons its occupants, essentially reducing any and all noises from the outside to whispers. The amplitude-selective dampers make the ride ever so composed, absorbing impacts gracefully. However, the 19-inch wheels do contribute to low speed harshness especially over sharp, undulating patches of tarmac.

And while quietness is its greatest strength, the Legend still lacks a sense of driver engagement. It’s designed as a plush luxury cruiser so any sudden application of power may result in an unintended, but controllable drift. This happened once going down from the SM Mall of Asia parking lot. Using momentum going down the continuous unpainted spiral portion and then tapping on the accelerator upon reaching a leveled painted portion will get the SH-AWD momentarily confused. This kicks the tail out requiring minute correction to keep it tracking straight. Apart from that scary moment, it handles like a smaller car and responds to a change in direction quite well. The steering is devoid of feedback, but it’s accurate and smooth throughout its range of motion. The touchy nature of the brakes is also something that needs getting used to, but the biggest problem is the constant nannying of the Honda Sensing system. Even on its least sensitive setting, flashing warning lights, constant beeping, and tugging of the seat belts becomes the norm. It’s so irritating that it’s worth just shutting everything off.

Honda’s move to introduce its flagship sedan here may be seen as something unnecessary or even distracting when they should be concentrating on products like the Civic. But the Legend’s arrival to the Philippines is necessary. They’re certainly not going to sell a bucket load of these ultra-luxurious sedans, but that’s beside the point. What the Legend does is that it put Honda’s go-against-the-grain thinking back in the spotlight. It proves that luxury need not be driven simply by the badge or the amount of wood paneling it has inside. Technology can be a driver of luxury. If that message manages to rub onto the rest of the Honda line-up, then it’s job done.

2016 Honda Legend 3.5 Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
Ownership 2016 Honda Legend 3.5 Sports Hybrid SH-AWD
Year Introduced 2015
Vehicle Classification Luxury Car
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 3.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated, Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders V6
BHP @ rpm 312 @ 6,500 (380 @ 6,500 combined)
Nm @ rpm 369 @ 4,700 (462 @ 4,700 combined)
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 7-speed Dual Clutch
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,997
Width (mm) 1,890
Height (mm) 1,478
Wheelbase (mm) 2,850
Curb Weight (kg) 1,976
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone, Amplitude Selective Damper
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link, Amplitude Selective Damper
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Solid Disc
Tires Michelin Pilot Sport 3 245/40 R 19 Y (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 9
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear, with Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic, Power Adjustment
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat No
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 14
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. Once again, I love the honesty of the author as compared to those corporate hugger c*cksuckers at topgear ph. Keep up the good work, I admire your honesty in pointing out the things you like and don't like in the car.

  2. Interesting review. Legend looks good on the outside, but interior is disappointing. With regards to trunk space, Honda Japan claims it can fit 3 golf bags. They even have a website on this. http://www.honda.co.jp/golf/golf-car/legend-hybrid/ and http://www.honda.co.jp/golf/golf-car/golf-car3/index.html#type-top

    1. Yeah I think you can, but I can't let go of the thought of all that wasted trunk space! 328 liters? That's like a City!

  3. Shit's way overpriced for what you're getting. The accord is good enough if you want a luxurious honda sedan.

    1. Accord is Luxury? WTF are you talking about? Executive sedan yes........but no way can a Thailand-built Honda Accord match up to a Japan-made Honda Legend.

      Anyways, I test drove the Legend myself at Honda Greenhills. The car was fantastic.

      Here are my key points:
      -The brake pedal feel is very strong and responsive (e.g. you can also adjust this via mode setting)
      -Krell Audio System is impressive especially its mid-range speakers and tweeters.
      -Manual Mode can be activated in Sports Mode
      -AWD system is very responsive.
      -Front Collision Warning System works very well and can be adjusted to your desired proximity setting.
      -Honda Japan fit-and-finish and build quality is superb.
      -Heads Up Display is handy and very legible.
      -Jewel LED headlights look stunning
      -Lane Departure Warning System has Audio-only mode (which is great if you don't want the LDW/LKAS system to intervene and you just want to be notified if a car is in your blind spot)

      This is just a few of the many positive things that I can say about this car.

      Spec-wise, this car competes against the likes of the Peugeot 508, VW Passat.........all the way up to the Lexus GS350 =)

    2. It depends on the country. In the US, the accord isn't even regarded as an executive sedan. It is boring and is a very common family car. Here in the Philippines, many regarded the accord as a luxury sedan. Why? Its comfortable than most cars. Cause its expensive as hell and only few own it. Its being marketed as an executive and luxurious car here and yes Honda can get away with it because this is a poor ass country.

  4. ^With that front grille, I thought it was the 2010 Vios at first... LOL! I wouldn't want to be at the receiving end of the high beam of that headlight! These type of lights should be banned in PH as they could blind on-coming traffic on provincial roads...

  5. this will be like a unicorn on manila roads

    1. More like black sheep.

  6. Looks like an Acura TLX made by Honda here in the USA. Same dimension as Honda Accord. Non hybrid cost about USD 32,000. A luxury version of Accord. Buy accord and save money.